Hi John,

First, thanks for the great programming.  I’ve been using it for the last six months, and really couldn’t be happier.

However, I’m training for the Marine Corp’s Officer Candidate School.  Part of its requirements is a three-mile run in 18:00 for maximum points.  I recently ran a 5k with less than satisfactory results.  I wonder what you would recommend to improve my endurance for these long runs, besides things like intervals, which I haven’t seen carry over totally into endurance type runs over a mile, without sacrificing strength gains.


AP – If your test involves a 5k, I think you should start running 5ks or some form of distance in preparation. We always had some awful conditioning test the first day of training camp, I always made sure I had done it a few times so I knew exactly how fast I had to run and what to expect. The biggest expectation was whether or not I could pass it. My redshirt freshman year in college I had to run a sub 7 minute mile if I was under 300 lbs, and a 7:30 mile if I was over. I ate myself sick and couldn’t get over 300 lbs, so I had to bang out a sub 7:00 minute mile. I ran it every week for 2 months and on my last attempt I finished in 6:58. While I continued to train, my training took on a lot of distance volume in preparation for the test and as a result I missed out on valuable speed work. In hindsight, that was a stupid test.

The confidence of knowing that you have run the 5k in 18 minutes will do worlds on test day if you have done it in training. I wish I could say that short sprints and heavy weights will give let you hammer sub 6-minute miles but that would be bullshit. Running a 5k at a sub 6 minute pace takes a certain level of capacity, conditioning and preparation. I think you should start adding in some Tabata runs, intervals and definitely start trying to hold the pace needed to successful in your run and build up from there.

You might have to sacrifice some strength gains to be successful at your test. Do whatever it takes to pass the test, then get back to work. The weights will still be waiting for you. Sometimes when we train I get angry at the weights when they push me around, I always want to say “Don’t you remember? I have lifted more than this and it was light. What is up? We are not friends?” The iron doesn’t remember…no respect.